Tucker in Asia

Friday, May 19, 2006

Onwards to Vietnam

Hmm, I finally have a computer that may just publish this. We have struck out a bit here and there on the whole email thing but that's ok, we were a little off the industrialized trail.

So as of the last post we were still in China and had not embarked on the 22, actually probably 30 hours of hell. To sum it up quickly we took a 1.5 hour bus ride from Langshou to Guilin, then a 22 hour train ride from Guilin to Kunming, and then a 5 hour bus ride from Kunming to Dali. The first bus ride was just fine, and the train wasn't all that bad, if you like sleeping in a smoky bar. If any of you would like to experience a simulation of the ride here is what you need to do. Go down to the Molly Brown about 8 am some morning with a bunch of people. Ask all of these people to smoke and spit as much as is humanly possible. Also ask them to push others (including you) when people walk around, come in or out, that sort of thing. Stay in the Molly Brown until 6 the next morning eating a couple noodle buckets, a couple Snickers bars, and some peanuts. You can also drink tea. At 6 have everyone run out of the bar as quick as they can, sort of like the building is going to blow up; you need to B-line it for the Scoop where you will spend the next 5 hours. I think the Molly is a good place for the simulation not just due to the smoke but for the second reason of the quality of the bathrooms. The kind that makes you want to wear a Tyvek suit into it. The Molly's may be a little nice but will suffice to get the general idea. Don't forget to spit on the floor.

Dali is located in the southwestern part of China in the Yunnan Province. The Yunnan Province in my opinion is the nicest part of China, life is a little slower, there is more preserved old culture, and it is beautiful. Unfortunately Dali was cold and wet so our time there was short but a little further down the road is another charming little spot called Lijiang. There is an old town here which is comprised of small winding pedestrian only streets with old style buildings housing shops, restaurants and hotels. This particular place seems to attract lots of Chinese tourists but it was easy to move off the main streets and avoid the hotspots. Lijiang is starting to be in the foothills of the Himalaya, there is a snow capped peak just out of town.

Lijiang turned out to be our last major stop in China, from there we have moved to Vietnam (though it took two days). Just a few closing thoughts on China...To start here are some of my likes and dislikes:
1. The history, historical places and sites
2. The Food, especially Kong Pao Chicken and Sichuan food
3. Longshou and the surrounding environment
4. Lijiang and the Black Dragon Pool Park
5. The Great Wall
6. Beijing
7. Hong Kong
8. The tea
9. The fact that I saved lots of money on cigarettes by only consuming second hand smoke; the best way to cut costs in China

1. The Chinese tour groups
2. All of the smoking
3. All of the spitting (they spit like Max does, but everyone does it everywhere)
4. The horn honking
5. How the communist country has come to fully capitalize on tourism (damn hypocrites)
6. The disappointment in finding that all fortune cookies must be exported to the U.S.

Overall I enjoyed my time in China, it's just that sometimes there were avoidable difficulties and annoyances present that have not appeared in other places I have traveled. Such is life. If there is one spot that I would come back to it would be Yunnan to spend some time and then follow it up with an overland journey to Tibet. Hong Kong would also be fun to re-visit, although on a much larger budget, or perhaps a companies budget.

We are now in Sapa, Vietnam. Sapa is located in the northwest part of the country and has lots of opportunities for trekking, market tours, and village tours. There are lots of minority peoples in towns close to here. We can also easily rent motorbikes. I am not completely sure what we are going to do here but some hikes are definitely on the forefront. Today we are just relaxing from all those days in buses. We moved fast the last week simply because of time, we are shooting to arrive in Bangkok by the 20th of June so that gives us about a month for Vietnam and Cambodia. We are continuing to cover lots of kilometers but so far have been able to see the things we want to, mostly. Still working on uploading those photos. Its not that I am lazy, it's that I just don't care. Oh, just kidding, I actually never remember to bring my camera to the computer with me. tucker


  • I'm surprised you did not vomit from the smoke! You were in it for such as long period of time!!. Did you get a chance to chat with anyone on the train ride? For me sleeping in an environment that smoky and seemingly noisy would not even be an option.

    Let me know if you get near the Ben Hai river, that is where my Dad was involved in a large firefight during the war. I think that is the battle he got three chunks of shrapnel in him. Anyway your adventures amaze me, keep on blogging...if your not blocked from doing so.

    By Blogger DannyJr, at 7:07 AM  

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